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The Cost to Own a Horse? Plus 5 cost-saving tips!

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How much does it cost to own a horse? This is actually one of the most common questions I get asked by people interested in getting their first horse. The answer is not straightforward because there are many variables involved in owning a horse.

In general, it cost about $6,000 per year to own a horse, but expenses vary greatly depending on factors such as your horses’ health and age. Your location and whether you keep your horse in a stall or pasture also influence costs.

You may think owning a horse is expensive, but that’s not always the case; horses are often more affordable than people believe. But some expenses are essential, and you need to know what these costs are before deciding to buy one.

Picture of a horse and its owner,

The costs associated with horse ownership.

Is it your (or your child’s dream) to own and keep a horse? Well, horses can be expensive, but if you have decided to own one, then congratulations! Nothing is more satisfying than having your own horse to love and care for.

The table below is a breakdown of the annual costs of horse ownership. Where possible, I used the average or mid-range values.

ItemAmount
The initial cost of buyingAbout $5000 (one time)
  
Horse boarding/stableApprox. $2000 (initial cost – one time)
  
Stable accessories$700-$1000 (one time cost)
  
Stabling and feeding equipment$200 (initial cost)
  
Miscellaneous initial cost (Vet, horseshoeing, membership, vaccinations, transportation, etc.)$2000 – $3000
  
Total initial cost of horse ownership$10000 – $ 15000 (first-year cost)
  
Riding lessons$1000 – $1500 per year
  
Insurance$450/year
  
Feed$1500- $2000 per year
  
Bedding$300 per year
  
Healthcare (Shoeing, deworming, vaccinations, dental care)$2000 per year
  
Total cost of horse ownership per year$6000-$7000 (per year after the first year)

Horses are a unique animal that requires specialized care and knowledge. Horses can be expensive to buy, maintain, and house. With rising living costs, it is more difficult for people to afford horses as pets or for recreational sporting animals.

In this guide, I help break down the cost of horse ownership to decide if keeping a horse is feasible for you. I also added a few fun facts and some pro tips that could help you save money.

Please note that this information is only for US residents. So if you are from another country, please consider other resources. Note that the figures given here are approximate, and they will vary significantly from state to state and depend on the quantity, quality, and type of horse you choose.

When you purchase a horse, there are many other expenses associated with owning one, which may not be evident at first glance. So without any further delay, let’s get into the costs of owning a horse.

Picture of a horse we recently bought as a three-year-old.

The cost to buy a horse.

I recently bought the three-year-old filly pictured for $6,000. She is a thoroughbred I found for sale that had just lost her first race, and the owner didn’t want to spend any more money training her.

The initial cost of buying a horse is just the tip of the iceberg. A horse, mule, or pony can cost anywhere between $500 and $50000+ depending on the horse’s age, breed, gender, and bloodline.

The average cost of purchasing a horse for recreation is about $3000. (I broke down the exact first-year costs in a tabular form above so you can see all the expenses together.) You can find some of the best deals on horses at auctions.

Pro Tip: If you are looking to save money, some of the best deals you can find are at horse auctions. There are many types of auctions and horses sold, such as American Quarter horses, Mustangs, rescue horses, and Arabians. Older and untrained horses cost less, but you will have to shell out the money later on vet bills and train them.

Fun Fact: The most expensive horse to be ever be sold was Fusaichi Pegasus – bought for a whopping $60 million by Coolmore Stud shortly after winning the Kentucky Derby. He stood as a stud in Kentucky until his retirement in 2020.

The costs to feed a horse.

Horses are large, strong animals that need a lot of food to stay healthy. The costs to feed a horse can vary greatly depending on the type of hay and grain provided as well as how many times you choose to feed your horse each day.

There is also an option between feeding hay or grass and feeding grains like oats or corn (most commercial operations use grains). If you plan to keep your horse in a pasture with grass to graze throughout the day, it will cost less to feed your horse. In general, the cost to feed a horse is roughly $150.00 per month, but if your horse is only eating hay, it should cost less.

Total costs to feed an average-sized horse (weighing about 1,100 lb.) per month – $130 to $220 for food.

Fun Fact: An average-sized horse can easily consume 15 to 25 lb. of hay per day or nearly 15-30 bales of hay per month.

The costs of boarding a horse.

If you don’t have room for a horse, the best thing you can do is keep your horse at a stable. This gives your horse friends an in-between step for people who want a horse but don’t have space.

Horse Boarding can range from $300-$5000 per month depending on what services are needed. If you request special feed, grooming, and exercise for your horse, then prices will be higher than if all that’s required is shelter.

Boarding costs are often higher in urban areas and at facilities having many amenities. I recommend you contact several local horse farm owners and horse training facilities to estimate approximate boarding costs. You might also need to apply sales tax in your area.

Pro Tip: Simple pasture boarding is a lot cheaper than stable boarding. You can also sign up for rough board with a barn or opt for self-care boarding to save even more money.

The costs to shoe a horse.

Horses are big animals, and their feet need a lot of care and attention, including shoeing and trimming their hooves. The cost to shoe your horse can really rack up, depending on your horse and what type of shoeing it needs.

The annual costs to shoe horses are different for every horse because it depends on how often they will be ridden or worked, the type of shoe, and how often it needs to be shod.

Horseshoes are very important for most horses, and without them, their feet hurt, especially when walking over rocky terrain. In general, the average cost for a set of horseshoes to be put on your horse is $100, and it needs shoes at least six times a year. So expect to shell out at least $600 on horseshoeing annually.

Fun Fact: The Romans were the first to shoe their horses around 400 BC!

How much you can expect to spend on vet bills for your horse.

Horses are a large investment, and many people want to know how much they can expect to pay in vet bills for their horse. The answer is that the cost of vet bills varies depending on your horse’s age, where you live, the care your horse needs, and your health condition.

In general, if your horse is healthy and needs only routine care, you can expect to spend about $1,500 per year on vet bills conservatively. The breakup of Vet bills for horses is as follows:

  • Routine checkup – $50 (depending on your state)
  • Deworming (4 times a year) – $75
  • Vaccinations–$200 plus vet fees
  • Minor/non-emergency visits – variable
  • Dental checkup-$400 (for two annual dental visits)
  • Emergency – variable
  • Insurance cost–depending on your horse’s value and age, this can be about $500.

Total Cost – between $800 and $1500.

Pro Tip: Learn basic medical care to save on vet bills.

Picture of a horse laying in deep bedding,

Horse bedding and stabling costs.

Horse bedding and stabling costs can be a mystery to the uninitiated. The average horse owner will spend about $1,000 annually on bedding alone. Understanding all of the factors that calculate how much you’ll need for your stalls is essential in planning your budget before buying any supplies or equipment.

Your horse boarding facility typically includes this cost. So you can omit this in your annual cost of horse ownership if you board your horse.

Horse bedding costs can vary based on region, type, and the amount you purchase. A bag of wood pellets or pine shavings costs roughly $5, and you buy about four bags per week, then the cost can be $20 for each week and approximately $1000 per year.

The amount of bedding depends on how much stall time your horse has and how well you muck out the stalls. Some horse owners use very little bedding throughout the year.

Miscellaneous Costs

Again, you won’t be shelling many of these out if you board your Horse. Also, most of these are one-time costs:

  • Blankets/rain sheets/ coolers – $60 to $300
  • Saddles (one-time cost) – this can vary from region to region, but you need to have it fitted from time to time. A high-quality saddle can cost about $1500 to $2000.
  • Bridle – depending on the quality, it can cost anywhere between $100 and $500.
  • Halter and lead – $50
  • First aid kit – This is a must-have for all horse owners. It should ideally contain essential medicines, bandages, wraps, gauze, cotton, etc. Approximate cost $150.
  • Transportation – about $1 per mile for less than 1000 miles.

Total – $1850 to $5000.

FAQs

How much does it cost to own a horse per month?

The monthly cost of horse ownership is par with car payment installments and comes to approximately $500 per month, depending on your location.

How much is the cheapest horse?

When you’re looking for a cheap horse, keep your eye out for a free one. Finding someone who needs to give up their horse is easier than ever today with the help of social media sites.
You could buy a grade or older horse in the range of $500 to $50000 but the cheaper the horse, the more you’d spend later on vet bills, training, etc.

Which are the most expensive horse breeds?

Some of the most expensive horse breeds include Akhal-Teke, Friesian, Dutch Warmblood, and Thoroughbred.

Is it expensive to keep a horse?

Horses are an expensive hobby, which is why you need to plan accordingly. In the first year alone, expect an investment of around $10k. Yearly maintenance costs will cost anywhere from $6-7K too!

Conclusion

Horse ownership is extremely rewarding, but it also requires budgeting. I calculated the costs based on averages, my region, and keeping common horse breeds. Remember always to have an amount reserved for unexpected expenses such as emergency vet bills.

I hope this guide provided you with an idea of the costs of owning a horse.